America's Next Top Model?
Hundreds turn out for the reality show casting call at Lakeforest mall.
The halls of Lakeforest mall became a catwalk Friday night as women from as far away as Pennsylvania and New Jersey strutted their stuff for a chance at reality show glory.
Hundreds of women put their best foot forward at the Gaithersburg mall during auditions for the 17th cycle of America’s Next Top Model, a televised modeling competition hosted by Tyra Banks. The open casting call was hosted by DC50, which airs the show locally.
This is the third year auditions have been held at Lakeforest, according to Susan Davis, director of marketing and business development at the mall. This year appeared to have the heaviest turnout, she said.
“This is actually pretty huge,” Davis said as the auditions got underway Friday afternoon. “Maybe everybody’s playing hooky today.”
The event is good exposure for Lakeforest retailers, Davis said, and many mall eateries see an increase in business during auditions. A line stretching the entire length of the mall had formed by the time the event began at 5 p.m.
“I actually was here the last time but of course I didn’t get chosen,” Cynthia Littlejohn, 19, of Gaithersburg said with a laugh. “This is what I want to do. I want to be in fashion.”
Some women said they had been trying to break into modeling for years, while for others Friday was their first go.
“To me, [modeling] is like a fantasy. It’s dreamy, it’s artistic,” said Vanessa Palka, 24, of New Jersey, who waits tables while working to start her modeling career. “There’s different people you can be as a model.”
The prospective models showed off their best walks for a panel of judges and answered brief questions, according to CW50 general manager Ashley Messina. Final casting decisions will be made by show producers.
Messina estimated that about 1,000 were in line when the event started. Top Model auditions typically draw 2,000 to 3,000 applicants, she said.
Castings also took place in Texas, California and Alabama Friday night and will continue in cities across the country through Feb. 18. The deadline for videotaped applications is Feb. 22. Additional information is available online.
Selected contestants, anywhere from nine to 14 women, will film 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for about 90 days beginning in May.
A handful of Top Model contestants have hailed from the Old Line State over the years, including Sandra Nyanchoka of Rockville, Sarah Dankleman and Jane Randall, both of Baltimore, and Isis King of Prince George’s County, the show’s first transgender contestant.
Cycle 16 of America’s Next Top Model premieres 8 p.m. Feb. 23 on The CW. The grand prize includes a contract with IMG Models, a fashion spread in Vogue Italia, a Beauty in Vogue cover and a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl Cosmetics.